Pentagon, USAID Inspectors Launch Reviews of Gaza Humanitarian Pier

The offices of the inspectors general for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are both launching reviews into the temporary Gaza humanitarian aid pier, which has operated in fits and starts amid delays and inclement weather.

On June 27, the Pentagon’s inspector general and USAID’s inspector general jointly said they would conduct separate reviews covering their respective areas of focus as they relate to the temporary structure, also referred to as the Trident Pier.

“Through our collaboration, we will leverage the unique expertise, resources, and capabilities of our teams to optimize our oversight in this important area,” Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch said on June 27.

The Pentagon review will play out in two phases and assess the effectiveness of the military’s efforts “to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the maritime corridor.” The first phase will focus on understanding the U.S. military’s roles, responsibilities, and controls related to the project, and the second phase will assess how they actually handled those roles and responsibilities during construction and operation.

The USAID review also will play out in phases and will focus on how the agency has handled its role in overseeing the transfer of humanitarian aid from the pier to the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP) distribution partners within the Gaza Strip.

President Joe Biden announced plans for the temporary aid pier during his March 7 State of the Union address, as the Israeli military campaign in the Gaza Strip hit the five-month mark.

The effort to open a sea corridor for humanitarian assistance came about amid concerns over a growing risk of famine in the embattled territory. Overland aid deliveries were disrupted by the fighting in the Gaza Strip. Activists in Israel also have been accused of blocking aid trucks bound for the Gaza Strip and emptying their supplies.

The Biden administration began airdropping humanitarian supplies and President Biden reached his decision to open the sea corridor after a Feb. 29 incident, in which dozens of people were injured and killed during a rush on an aid delivery convoy in northern Gaza. Some accounts claimed that the casualties were the result of Israeli troops firing on the crowds as they lined the delivery route.

The Israeli military acknowledged its troops fired their weapons but said it was to disperse members of the crowd who were ignoring dispersal warnings and approaching nearby Israeli military positions. The Israeli military attributed most of the casualties to people being run over by aid trucks or being trampled in the crowd.

String of Challenges

The U.S. military met with some challenges in its initial pier construction effort.

In an April 25 call with reporters, U.S. military officials estimated that the pier would be operational in early May. After poor weather caused delays, the pier was used by delivery trucks for the first time on May 17.

On May 25, the pier was damaged when bad weather caused four U.S. Army vessels supporting the pier structure to break free from their anchors and become beached along the coastline. By May 28, the Pentagon said it had elected to relocate the pier to the Israeli port city of Ashdod for repairs.

The pier was reattached to the Gaza shoreline on June 7. But by June 14, the military had elected to again relocate the pier to Ashdod, in anticipation of rough seas.

The pier was most recently reattached to the Gaza shore on June 20. Pentagon press secretary Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder announced the pier’s return during a June 20 news briefing in which he also denied rumors that the U.S. military would soon abandon the humanitarian pier mission.

From The Epoch Times